Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 Album of the Year

Heritage by Opeth.

I'll admit, right out the gate, that this selection leaves me with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth.  The reason being that my music listening year seems so incomplete this time around. The fact that I still haven't had a chance to get in a full listen of Mastodon's The Hunter, let alone the ten plus listens I prefer before giving something a review really sticks in my craw.  In many ways, this selection feels almost like a default selection.

Sure, it is a new album from my favorite band, but I can't exactly say that I love this album, so that sorta takes away from the whole Album of the Year thing.  Which is strange because in terms of volume, I listened to a lot of new* music this year.  (*Not necessarily a 2011 release, but new to my ears.) I delved into Amon Amarth's back stock of albums, dabbled in the melodic crunchiness of Baroness and Kylesa, journeyed to the dark lands of Black Metal with Immortal by my side and even explored the rock genre with The Black Keys.  Despite all that, I didn't exactly discover anything that'll be getting steady play in my stereo.

So suffice it to say that this was a down year for me in terms of music.

So was Heritage a great album? Is it worthy of such exalted status?  Well, my review wasn't exactly favorable, but that was based more on terms of how I liked it in comparison to the rest of Opeth's output rather than it's individual merits.  All told, the album is quite good.  The music is beautiful, and expertly crafted.  Heritage has an appeal to non-metal music listeners as well as long time fans of the band, so in many ways this album is very much worthy of high praise and the lofty title as Battle Hymns' Album of the Year.  And, for better or worse, whether I like the results or not, it is still the best piece of new music I listened to this year.  So there you go.

By the way, if you aren't a fan of Opeth, you really should listen to their stuff.  It is wonderful.  Well, that's my album of the year.  Aside from the Mastodon album, were there other glaring oversites?  What was your favorite album of the year?


Justin said...

A few of my favorite albums from this year:
Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising
Mastodon - The Hunter
Atlas Moth - An Ache for the Distance
Machine Head - Unto the Locust
Red Fang - Murder the Mountains
Subrosa - No Help for the Mighty Ones
Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage
Yob - Atma

Ryan said...

Nice list Justin. I really need to get my hands on that Mastodon album. I wanna check out some of the other stuff you mentioned too.

Niall Alexander said...

Surprised you went with Heritage, mate. Surprised, but pleasantly!

That Mastodon album, though... maybe I'm just getting older, but I loved what they did with Crack the Skye, enough to hope that's where the guys were heading, but The Hunter seems like full steam in exactly the opposite direction. Was a real disappointment for me.

But I hadn't realised there was new Machine Head - thanks for pointing me in the right direction, Justin.

Ryan said...

Niall, I finally heard the Mastodon album for the first time the other night. It is definitely straight ahead metal, and not as epic and intricate as Crack the Skye. I need to listen to it a few more times before I form a solid opinion, but for now I'll definitely agree that it is much different.